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Self-Hosting for Book Bloggers
blogging guide,  Discussion post

Pros and Cons of Self-Hosting for Book Bloggers

Hello readers! I was planning to write this post ever since I switched my free WP and then paid WP blog to self-hosted but I wanted to wait for one full year before I share my experience and can tell what is Pros and Cons of Self-Hosting for Book Bloggers, whether to switch or not, or if taking plan from WP itself is worth or not…

I’m not going in detail about what’s self-hosting and how you switch to it and what’s the guide or the process. You will find hundreds of articles on that. What I’m going to talk about here is the advantages and disadvantages based on my experience, of switching to a self-hosted site. This can be different from other self-hosted bloggers as mostly it depends on the hosting site or how good you’re at this.

Self-Hosting for Book Bloggers

Pros

1. Ownership of your site

If you have a free WP or paid plan, you must know WP doesn’t exactly give the ownership of your site to you. It has its control over your site. If you have WP free plan, you see WP subdomain – xxx.wordpress.com and WP puts its own ads to earn revenue from free WP blogs. With a paid plan you can have your own domain but still don’t have the flexibility to put your own code or make the blog look as you want. There is also limit to growth and space for your data. But Switching to self-hosted makes your blog your own. You have control on ads, or if you don’t want to have ads at all, and according to plans you get from hosting provider, you have as much space as you want, basically more space and more growth than WP.com gives. Self-hosting makes your blog your own brand.

2. Flexibility

This is one thing I love most. I tried WP paid plan before switching to self-hosted, thinking I will have many options with themes and plugins. No! WP paid plans gave limited themes and you can’t exactly install plugins, you have to get a business plan for that which is costly. With self-hosted site, I get unlimited theme, can install plugins, have header and footer, page templates, colors, fonts and page width as I want and if I don’t get the look from theme I can adjust with simple CSS code.

For example mine is Ashe theme, you can see HERE the theme’s font is small that I don’t like so I have added CSS for that and I have also added CSS for line spacing.

3. SEO and ranking

SEO feels like magic. If you don’t know SEO is Seach Engine Optimization. I’m not exactly a tech person, I don’t fully understand SEO but I follow a simple thing that makes sense to me- a good quality keyword, include it in title, in first paragraph and in the featured image, and be sure the SEO ratio of my post is 80% or more- and it takes the post higher on search engines. I get my followers and view from WP readers but I get as many more visitors and views through search engines.

As per my understanding, with WP free or paid, you don’t get to choose your keyword, WP automatically sets it for your post, which means it might work for your post or it might not. You don’t have control over it but with self-hosted site you have SEO plugins (I use AIOSEO, I find it simple than Yoast that most people use), that give you control and also show how best it will work.

You can also analyze Headline with Headline analyzer that also helps with ranking of your post higher in search engines.

4. Monetization

This is one thing I love most because let’s be honest we book bloggers don’t exactly earn. It’s a free hobby thing that we love to do no matter what. But going self-hosting needs money, same with paid WP and that we usually don’t have as we, at least I, always want to buy more books than spend it on blog that doesn’t give any monetary return.

Unless you go for business WP plan you don’t get to do anything about earning which is again costly. Any other plans don’t allow you to run third-party ads nor they let you install woocommerce plugins. As I don’t sell anything I don’t need Woocommerce but I can run ads through self-hosting and that gives little bit of money. Yes, I do need lots of traffic to earn enough to make my self-hosting totally free but I can see that happening or at least hope for it in future. Tbh, a little is better than nothing.

5. Pocket friendly

I’m money-saving person so I always go for the cheapest and like I said I wish to keep money for books and spend minimum on blog. So when it comes to comparison self-hosting is way cheaper than paid WP plan. Different Web hosting charges are different as per the features they give. You have to find the right one. They sure give lots of features and flexibility than WP plan.

6. Professional

Yes, of course, it looks way more professional and also beautiful with all that flexibility.

Cons

1. Harder to set up

You need to be well informed and well researched before you go for Self-hosting. It’s not as easy as all articles out there say, at least not for a person like me who isn’t tech-savvy. I needed to get help for my own set up and I still made mistake as I didn’t exactly understand the old domain name I had was from WP.com and I should have transferred it to self-hosting server. I thought I get free domain with my plan and so I don’t need to do anything with it and just enter domain name I had. I WAS SO WRONG! It’s after my domain experied I understood what the heck was the issue. It was a nightmare. So you see, you need to make sure you are doing everything right or get help of an expert.

2. No support if anything goes wrong

Yup, be prepared to solve things on your own or hire someone who is an expert as you don’t get the support from any hosting provider. I had my domain name issues and then I had issues with Jetpack as my posts weren’t showing up in WP Reader initially and we all know most viewers we get are through WP reader. I had to solve everything on my own. It was time consuming and the headache comes free with no pain killer. Thankfully I had people around me who helped me.

3. Site backups

You have to back up your data manually from time to time. Nobody takes care of it unless you pay extra for that to Jetpack or some other site.

4. As the site grows cost increases

I haven’t reached that stage yet but I have seen people talking about it. If you don’t put ads or find a way to earn from blog, eventually in longer run you might find self-hosting as costly as WP plans.

5. WP readers can’t find you through tags unless you keep yourself visible through blog hopping and interaction.

For most bloggers this is deal breaker because WP community is so huge and we all get most of our followers through WP. They find us by searching through tags we use in posts. Unless you have Paid Jetpack you can’t hope to be found by WP readers or WP community who isn’t following you. People can type in your blog name or title of your post and find you, but what’s the probability they hit the exact words that lead to your site? You still can be part of the community by Free Jetpack which helps you connect with your old WP followers and make your post visible to WP readers but you have to rely on other WP bloggers and social media or blog hop a lot to make your blog visible for all of the WP followers.

6. Your site performance depends on hosting server

Performance and loading speed depends on hosting server. If my hosting provider/server is on maintenance, my site also goes on maintenance mode and it wouldn’t work for that particular time period.

In conclusion, in my experience, it’s not that easy to set up self-hosting site like every articles in Google suggest. However, it’s not same for every bloggers. Some bloggers have a smooth experience, they are damn lucky or really good with these things, some have better self-hosting site that charges more and help with the transition and all but if you’re willing to do research and work on it, have some tech-savvy gene, or relative or friend that can help you, I’m 100% sure you should go for self-hosting. Once everything is set up, it’s very easy and smooth. Also, the community is amazing at helping whenever you’re stuck. I love my self-hosted blog and I’ll continue to use it for now.

Thank you for reading! Let’s chat..,

What do you think about this post?
Do you agree or disagree with my points?
What tips you’ll give to bloggers who want to switch to self-hosted site?

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

29 Comments

  • Rolé @ Hooked By That Book

    Interesting post. I just started out self hosting, but I did spend a lot of time doing research on it. And I had a lot of hits and misses with plugins. But I’m happy so far and have been able to sort out my issues either by posting on support forums or doing some searches myself.

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      you’re not wrong and there are some things that could go wrong but if it’s set well and you know how to set it up or transfer your data/blog from one host to other, I don’t think it needs there is much to worry about. Like I said, once it’s set up it’s smooth to run the blog. Thank you!

  • Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)

    Honestly, the ads and the limitations free WordPress had was why I went with Blogger instead at first even though Blogger has its own issues too. I ended up moving to self hosted WordPress and I definitely don’t regret it for all the pros you mentioned, even though it was a definite learning curve (but I suppose in a way it could be a pro since I’m a little techy and it was great learning a lot about self hosting and the work involved). I love the flexibility and customization, but I also really love that I get to choose what I want for my site and having full ownership as well.

  • Marie

    Ah this is such an interesting post, thank you for sharing! I self-hosted back in 2020 and I wouldn’t go back. It was a bit terrifying to take that step, but I’m so happy now to have full ownership of my blog, to be able to design it the way I want it and just, I love how much control I have over my blog, as a whole. It’s a bit of a stressful process for sure, there is a learning curve and some things you have to figure out yourself, but it’s a great experience, too! 🙂
    Great post!!

  • Joanne

    I often find I can’t comment on self hosted sites through the reader – although I can on yours! Your site looks lovely although I have to admit that I don’t understand a lot of the things you mention like CSS! 😊

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      I think there isn’t issue with comment if you are following self-hosted site if you are following them through WP reader. Self-hosted site has put html code on site for WP following button and not everyone is putting that.

      Thank you! CSS is code, they are available easily by google search. We just need to copy paste them in theme.

  • Bookstooge

    Your first 2 points in the CONS are why, despite all my complaining about WP.com, I’ll not go self-hosted. While the comments and notifications work well on your site (integrating with my notification bell in the reader perfectly), 9 out of 10 self-hosted sites I’ve tried had some issue or other. Comments and notifications are a big deal to me.

    But really glad this option is working for you. Especially as you seem the creative type.

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Yes, those first two points are why poeple don’t want to leave the comfort of free WP and it was also the reason I waited 3 yrs before switiching. It was loads of motivations and determination that made me even think about it. Problems are inevitable for everyone, even with help one cannot give 100% surety there won’t be any problems unless you’re a coder and real pro at making sites. But why not try it as long as it works fine.

      Yes thankfully so far it’s working for me.

  • WendyW

    This is a very helpful post. I’ve always just done self hosting, and never had too many issues with setting it up or anything. It’s nice to know the pros and cons of both.

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Those who started with self-hosting ususally have a better time with the set up as you get the clean slate and there is no headache of migration and that’s why most people suggest starting with self-hosting than with free WP or paid WP.

      I should have included that point in post.

  • Krysta

    I was willing to put up with the ads on WordPress, but when they started publishing ad “blog posts” as the second post on all the free WordPress sites, that was pretty devastating. It’s not ideal to have something you didn’t write appear and try to blend in like you did and you support it!

    • Bookstooge

      WP.com is doing everything in its power to annoy the free users and make them pay (whether its through a plan or that no-adds addon). It is really shooting itself in the foot as far as I’m concerned.

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      I was also wondering when it started appearing on free WP if the WP usuers are posting sponsered content or what and i have to scroll throught that 4 layers of ads before I can like, share or comment. I feel it fine with actual spondered ads or google ads with one layer but 4 layers is too much!

      • Krysta

        Yeah, unfortunately free users get no say in what gets posted! And it doesn’t even LOOK like an ad. I think an unsavvy reader might see it and believe it was written or selected by the blogger. And that’s clearly the point on the part of WordPress. The move is to make everything look “organic.” But I’m not a fan of sketchy marketing tactics like that.

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Yes, as long as you’re happy with free WP and doesn’t want turn into monetary thing, free WP is great.
      I agree with your second point, you must be sure you want to be here for long time. you can switch back to free WP anytime you want but for that too you need to know how to migrate.

  • Eustacia | Eustea Reads

    Great post – I have a friend who switched over from paid wordpress to self-hosting because of the lack of flexibility (and the theme she was using somehow wasn’t supported). I generally enjoy self-hosting because it’s cheaper overall, but I recently switched hosts and that was a pain – definitely you need to be tech savvy for that!

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Agh just the idea of switching host is dreadful and i might have to do that if I find cheaper host from current one next year in 2023. I do have a help but it still makes me anxious already. But overall, yes, I also love self-hosting better than paid or free WP. Thank you! x

  • Reading Tonic

    Thank you for your very informative list of advantages and disadvantages of self-hosting based on your first-hand experience! Your blog looks beautiful, but I know how much hard work goes into creating interesting content and gorgeous aesthetics you have- this is definitely a labour of love!

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Thank you, Toni! That means a lot to me. I have itchy fingers and I know I have changed look of my blog hundred times before settling on this. I’m just grateful those who might have noticed it didn’t point it out to me.

      As for the content and time it takes I wish someone have told me 5 yrs back how much hard it is to write a blog. It really takes lots of efforts and it’s a thing we all should appreciate for all bloggers out there.

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